How One Little Word Started All Those "Kenny Chesney Is Gay" Rumors

Abi Travis - Author

May 1 2020, Updated 5:51 p.m. ET

kenny chesney gay renee zellwegger
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When you’re as famous as Kenny Chesney is, there are bound to be all kinds of questions and rumors surrounding you and your personal life. The American country music singer has (so far) recorded 20 albums — all of which have gotten at least a Gold rating from the RIAA — and recorded more than 40 Top 10 singles. And yet, so many of the headlines written about the 52-year-old Tennessee native seem most concerned about his sexuality.

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It’s something he’s spoken up about before to set the record straight. Is Kenny Chesney gay? And if he’s not, how did those rumors get started?

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Is Kenny Chesney gay?

Back in 2007, Kenny decided to set the record straight once and for all on an episode of 60 Minutes. When asked about the rumor that he is gay, Kenny said, simply: “It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, 'No, I'm not [gay],' but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it. [...] I didn't have to prove to anybody that I wasn't [gay]. I didn't feel like I really did."

So, there you have it. Kenny Chesney says he’s not gay, and he happens to be the only person we’re willing to trust regarding Kenny Chesney’s sexuality (which, admittedly, is really none of our business in the first place). But why did Kenny feel the need to clarify in the first place?

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Rumors that the country singer is gay started swirling back in 2005.

On May 9, 2005, Kenny married actress Renée Zellweger in a ceremony in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They had a whirlwind romance — they had just met in January of that same year during a tsunami relief event. But their relationship was extinguished almost as quickly as it had begun. A mere four months after the wedding, they announced they would be annulling their relationship. The annulment went into effect in December.

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On the official paperwork, the couple cited “fraud” as the reason for their decision to annul. In California, a marriage can only be annulled (rather than ending in divorce) if either party in the marriage is under 18, of unsound mind, bound to a previous marriage, or if the consent to marry was obtained by fraud or force. “We thought the least harmful was ‘fraud’ because it’s kind of broad... doesn't specify," Kenny said. "And boy ... we were wrong."

That single word threw people into a frenzy. Many thought the use of the term “fraud” was in reference to Kenny himself, implying that he is gay. Although Renée later clarified that they had only meant fraud in the legal sense, it was too late to stop the rumors. “It made me sad that somehow people were using that as a way to be cruel and calling someone gay as a pejorative, which has fateful consequences,” Renée told The Advocate in 2016.

As a result of the rumors that surround his sexuality, Kenny is often put in the precarious position of having to clarify what’s true and advocate for people who do happen to be gay. We think he summed it up nicely with this quote (also from his 60 Minutes interview): “I think people need to live their lives the way they want to, but I'm pretty confident in the fact that I love girls.” Good enough for us!

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